Title

The process of creating tradition with high-tech classrooms in a rural Jamaican school and community

Date of Completion

January 2002

Keywords

Education, Technology of|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

This study examines sociocultural relationships centered on changes to high-tech classrooms in schools. The aim of this study was to understand the dynamics of changing social status within the school community in the wake of introducing information technology in the teaching and learning process. Understanding the dynamics of social changes relating to information technology will help to determine whether information technology systems are culture free, or if those systems encourage distinguishing behaviors or traditions among users. In turn, knowledge of the cultural aspects of information technology could help the user avoid costly installation of inappropriate systems environments. Cultural aspects include perceptions of technology as an extension of a struggle between Western and non-Western traditions, loyalty to familiar ways of life, and issues of controlling power. ^ Field based research methods were utilized throughout this study including ethnographic interviewing and participant observation. The field site was one school and its surrounding communities. Document analysis also was undertaken to help learn about sociocultural changes relating to high-tech classrooms. Twelve major themes emerged from this study. Findings suggest that social conflicts and harmonic processes (cooperation) are interrelated systems where harmony can become the source of conflict and vice versa. ^ Findings also suggest that the perception of technology can affect the teaching and learning process. For example, whenever high-tech classrooms are preserved as tools for subjugation or threats to local control, there were increased social conflicts. However when high-tech classroom technologies were perceived as providing opportunities of hope, there was more cooperation among participants. These opposing perceptions of technology influenced and are influenced by one another, which suggests that perception of technology is an ongoing, complex but logically distinct three-stage sociocultural process of creating tradition. ^ Further research is needed to understand the nature of the sociocultural activities associated with users of major information technology systems. Understanding more about the cultural aspects of major information systems could avoid costly technology implementation failures and underutilization of technology resources for sociocultural reasons. ^